Business leaders to lead on credible information regarding COVID-19

As the world confronts the spread of the new Coronavirus, people seek greater clarity on the risks they can expect to face and how to best minimize them. They search for reliable information from trusted sources. The problem is a dearth of credible information due to inaccuracy in social media and politicization of the problem. 
According to information on the dedicated COVID-19 websites from the EU and the Belgian government, as of 12 March, 314 cases of infection have been reported for Belgium (29 in Flanders, 7 in Brussels, 11 in Wallonia) with three deaths. On its website, the Belgian governments says there may be signs of a real epidemic in Belgium. Once again, an increase in the number of new cases can be noticed. Hospitals see more and more persons suffering from lower respiratory tract infections.

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As the leading communications agency worldwide, Edelman feels a particular responsibility to improve the flow of reliable and trustworthy communications.

The greatest contribution all of us in the communications industry can make in the coming weeks is to ensure that facts, not fiction, are the basis of decisions. The lessons of the Edelman Trust Barometer must come into play: “My Employer” is the most trusted institution and “My CEO” is expected to speak up on issues of the day.

Here are six steps businesses can take to keep trustworthy communications flowing:

  • Get your CEO out in front communicating with employees and all relevant stakeholders
  • Establish a cadence of frequent communications (preferably twice a week) with your employees and stakeholders to keep them updated on all relevant developments
  • Correct misinformation immediately
  • Create a platform that is routinely updated with pertinent information that may impact the lives of your employees and your company’s operation
  • Set up a hotline that employees can call with any questions they may have surrounding the virus
  • Communicate a no-regrets policy: if employees would prefer to work remotely or not travel, provide them that flexibility

This is a time for communicators to lead.

Edelman supports business and organizations manage the impact of COVID-19 through communications with stakeholders and communication strategies that drive effective crisis preparedness and response efforts. This work is informed by our current working relationships with World Economic Forum (WEF), World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and other public health contacts; as well as our experience with SARS, H1N1/09, Ebola and other outbreaks.

Our dedicated COVID-19 services comprise Strategic Counsel, Stakeholder Communications, Planning & Preparation including Crisis Simulations and Reputation Rebuilding.

Edelman supports organizations in meeting urgent communications needs and mitigating potential reputational risks relating to COVID-19, as well as introducing a program of multi-stakeholder preparedness.

Employee communications services aim to ensure all internal audiences, from leaders to line managers and front line staff feel informed and supported. We will help ensure they trust that the decisions being made on their behalf align to your organizational values. Maintaining the engagement of your people at this time is critical, as organizations increasingly recognize that employees have a crucial role to play in building reputation. The employee voice has never wielded so much power, especially during crises.

As the virus impacts a variety of stakeholders to differing degrees, the imperative for all organizations is to ensure that communication to their stakeholders is effective and timely. Every stakeholder during this period will have their own set of concerns and expectations of what they think the organization will and should do. Edelman supports clients in developing multi-stakeholder strategic communications plans aimed employees, investors/shareholders, media, customers, public authorities/regulators.

Drawing from a panel of experts, that includes former senior leaders from WHO, WEF and security services, our team is able to advise you and if required deploy, any relevant strategies across your operations. Our team is experienced in convening and chairing crisis management teams to oversee preparedness and response efforts, while determining protocols and strategies for case investigation, prevention and spread. We work closely with various operational and corporate teams to ensure that the communications response is fully aligned with the operational realities and business response. Edelman can also provide a perspective on the potential reputational impact of your operational or business continuity plans.

If you are worried about how Coronavirus may affect you or organisation, then get in touch.

At Edelman we have a full suite of services that can help you navigate through these challenges and ensure you are effectively communicating during these difficult times. Contact Stephan Luiten at for more information.